07/05/2021, 12.10
LEBANON
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Medicine disaster looms for Beruit with stocks set to end within July

The alarm raised by importing companies. The arrival of medicines in the last month "almost completely stopped". Hundreds of essential or life-saving medicines have run out, while the Central Bank has run out of liquidity due to the freezing of funds. One of the worst financial crises since 1850.

 

 

Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Lebanon risks a "disastrous" shortage of medicines amidst a deepening national economic crisis. The alarm has been raised by the association representing the country's importing companies, according to which arrivals in the last month "have almost completely stopped". Hundreds of essential or life-saving medicines are out of stock and further shortages could occur if the Central Bank runs out of liquidity due to a funding freeze. 

The Lebanese are struggling to survive amidst a lack of medicines, chronic shortages of fuel and electricity. The interim government, in the crosshairs of the population who have taken to the streets on several occasions to protest, also seems intent on cancelling the subsidies it is no longer able to guarantee. The World Bank itself speaks of one of the worst financial crises since 1850.

At the beginning of June, the president of Caritas Lebanon, Fr Michel Abboud, denounced the country's profound difficulties, which are economic as well as political and social, and end up affecting a strategic sector such as health. At the root of the problem," he said, "is the rise of the dollar. At one time, a salary was worth 1,000 dollars, today it is worth a hundred; the cost of living has risen in all areas. 

The local currency has lost more than 90 per cent of its value on the black market, and the currency crisis is also affecting medicines. The importers' association says that the Central Bank has not allocated the promised dollars to pay overseas suppliers, who have accumulated debts of more than 0 million since December. As a result, they cannot obtain new credit lines. The stocks of hundreds of drugs for the treatment of chronic and incurable diseases," they say, "are exhausted. And hundreds more, they add, 'will run out by July if we cannot resume imports as soon as possible'.

Union chief Karim Gebara told AFP that some drugs to treat heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, cancer and multiple sclerosis are already out of stock. If nothing is done, he warned, 'the situation will be catastrophic by the end of July', depriving 'hundreds of thousands of patients' of their medicines.

Lebanon has been in the grip of a serious and prolonged political and economic crises. Last October, President Michel Aoun gave three-time Prime Minister Saad Hariri a mandate to form a new cabinet, but he has failed so far because of domestic divisions.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the twin double explosion at the port of Beirut made matters far worse, plunging 55 per cent of the population below the poverty line during the ongoing emergency.

The has triggered a wave of suicides and a rush to buy the few drugs left, while hospitals are on the verge of a collapse.

 

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